- Director: Lauren Hadaway
- Writer: Lauren Hadaway
- Producer: Ryan Bartecki, Jeremy Campbell, Alex Engemann, Jeff Handel, Ryan Hawkins, Christopher Hines, Kari Hollend, Steven Sims, Michael Tennant, Randy Toll, Steven Toll, Zack Zucker
It takes something special to become an elite sportsperson...and, that certain 'something' is not what you expect! There are many euphemisms for 'it': focus, determination, single-mindedness, obsession, steeliness, balls, grit...talent even! Still, all of those combined are not enough!
This film could have easily been called 'The Mercenary'...because, without that killer instinct no-one gets their hands on the Gold. And, this novice rower wants what she wants...and nothing is going to get in her way.
She rows at the expense of others, aloof of the collateral damage...and always accompanied by a blatant disregard of the fallout her success leaves in its wake.
There is little in the way of a narrative...who needs a backstory when the prize is the end all and be all. Getting there is everything...but, humanity, human-ness regularly intervenes, throwing curve-balls all over the place. Needs must...but, when there's a devil driving! Needs must serve the driver!
It's difficult to process...but, this is Lauren Hadaway's debut feature...surely, she's been making sports commercials for years!?! The cinematography is glorious. The pace, fast and furious. Think: tornado...beautiful, powerful, destructive...and, all it leaves behind is nothing but wreckage.
Isabelle Fuhrman is faultless as the mercenary...she sweats and seethes, she's stoic and steel...but, does she win?!? Because...if she doesn't...what was it all for?
The Novice is complex...because, obsession is. This isn't the usual triumphant, back-slapping sports film...this is a back-stabbing beauty!
Isabelle Fuhrman plays Alex Dall, a queer college freshman who joins her university's rowing team and undertakes an obsessive physical and psychological journey to make it to the top varsity boat, no matter the cost.